‘You make me feel like Celine Dion,’ says John Waters to a roaring crowd as he steps on to the stage to begin the stand-up routine he’s been delivering for three decades now. This is a straight record of that act, filmed over two nights in New York – camera trained on Waters, the odd cutaway to the audience – yet the content is anything but straight as Waters jumps from Dion to Jonas Mekas to Rhoda Penmark to William Castle to mock-disgusted explanations of ‘teabagging’ (dangling your testicles in someone’s mouth) and ‘helicoptering’ (slapping someone’s face with your… yes, you can imagine the rest).
ick, sick, sick is how Waters describes his humour, but what mostly comes across, apart from what a great performer he is, is how clued-up the man remains. There’s nothing archaic about his gags and, impressively, he maintains a high-calibre of cultural references, never dumbing down for the younger, college-age audience that sustains him. There’s even time for some fatherly advice: |‘We have to make books cool again. If you go home with someone who has no books, don’t fuck ’em!’